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Book TV After Words

Craig Whitney Education. (2012) 'Living With Guns A Liberal's Case for the Second Amendment.'

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  CSPAN    Book TV After Words    Craig Whitney  Education.  (2012) 'Living With  
   Guns A Liberal's Case for the Second Amendment.'  

    December 24, 2012
    12:00 - 1:00am EST  

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best meets that child's needs and that will result in what? it will result in excellence and innovation because your school doesn't work. they will take their children to someone else's school. what will you do? you will say my goodness why are these people leaving my school i better do something to keep them here or you will go out of business to someone else will come in and do it. competition works such as governor johnson and i say we will bring back excellence to our schools within four years of installing this program and we managed, too. ..
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i realized that i didn't really know myself. i thought when i retired, when i had time, i would try to do some research and find out why did we
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have the second amendment and how has it been understood, and the back -- book was a result. >> read the book with interest. you cover history, the legal battles, you cover what's going on current day. let's go through that and starting with the history. looked at american history and saw the role guns played or didn't play. >> i grew up in massachusetts in the 50s, and we always made a big thing of thanksgiving and sqwanto and so on, and the latest story ran in schools, when we learned about it, the pilgrims came and were friendly with the indians and celebrated the first thanksgiving and everything was hunky dorie.
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you read the excite you find relations between the native americans and the english settlers were anything but friendly much of the time, and you had massacres on both sides, and tremendous hostility. understandable because of the native americans thought the land belonged to them, and lo and behold, the -- yeah. but that is certainly surprised me. i know there's been in questions raised whether the colonists had as many guns a people nowday say they had but you look back in history and gucks are very important. if you're a white male over the age of 18, you were practically required to have a firearm and to produce it when called upon to defend your town or state.
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>> just anybody that was going to take the risk of crossing the ocean? >> guest: there was a children law right in england that allowed people to have firearms for self-defense and other purposes, and that right common law right, traveled across the ocean with the colonists and they needed the guns here, whereas in england mostly they didn't. and so people soon came to have an enormous facility and knowledge of firearms, and of course, as we all know, it produced the result of victory against the most powerful military country in the world at the time in the revolutionary war. >> host: i want to talk about that. and again, think people get hazy views on history, and it comes from movies or tv. when we had the revolutionary period, what was the role of guns? in this militias.
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>> guest: well, george washington didn't think a whole lot of the militia. he grossed about it at times but also made remarks that allowed as how the militia was a useful thing to have. he couldn't have bit the continental army without the existence of the militias and people who had been in the militias, and more importantly, volunteers and others who knew how to use firearms, and that was key. >> host: people were using these on the frontier, protection against the indians, native americans, hunting, and then in the colonies, some sense of responsibility nor the common good. >> guest: the command law right to have and use firearms came with a civic duty to use them when called upon. >> host: who was in charge of the militias? >> guest: local commanders, towns. they had them in new england, certainly. later on, they became more
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broadly based, but as tensions and hostilities mounted between the british authorities authorie colonists, in the approach to revolutionary war, it was seen by many of the leaders at the time as an advantage that we americans -- we knew how to use firearms. >> host: at this time was there organized law enforcement? these communities? or was in effect this group of volunteers or militia, the law enforcement? >> guest: depends on the size of the town there weren't armed policemen running around in places like boston or philadelphia. sure, it was mostly locally based as i understand it. i'm not the greatest expert on pre-revolutionary history, but it certainly was a sense of duty to serve in a militia when you were called upon. >> host: i know in american
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history, the shot that rang around the world, lexington and concord. everybody knows a little bit about that. one thing your book touches on this a little bit. but still a little confusing historically to me. the british were actually marching on the armory because a lot of the guns and the ammunition, i assume, were stored at the armory, a common, in effect, communal place for the guns and the ammunition. they were marching there, and that's what paul revere went to warn folks about. >> guest: and the minutemen came out and tried to resist them, and did successfully. >> host: in my mind, the armory talks about how this is a common usage, common purpose, which i know isn't necessarily -- >> guest: it's not necessarily a contradiction. for instance, if you didn't have a gun and you were -- should have had one, according to the
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militia requirements in one of these towns -- the town would sometimes provide it to you. they would then bill you for it. so, in a essence, it was private property even if they assigned you the weapon. but, sure, being mill -- militias, they needed to keep a supply of firearms and ammunition for those occasions when lots of resources were needed to deal with an indian attack or whatever it was. so they did have storage facilities in armories. >> host: even back then there were restrictions and regulations with regards to guns and the usage of guns? >> guest: just take a step further about from the armories. if the armories, there were also lists of militiamen so authorities knew who was in the militia, and therefore who had guns and what kind of guns they had. so when you hear it today,
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people resist the registry of firearms. they had it in the colonies on the local level. always been some kind of regulation there. >> host: we go from this history to the revolutionary war is successful. we're trying to form a country. we have the articles of confederation. that government is too weak so we're starting to write the constitution. this where is the second amendment comes in. how did that all develop? >> guest: well, nowdays it's become fashionable among people who support gun rights strongly to pick out this or that quotation from this or that leader, like samuel adams or thomas jefferson or whoever, and then apply that -- the second amendment seen as a way to enable individuals to defend themselves, and defend themselves against the government when it became tyrannical. that is a misunderstanding. it was a political matter, the second amendment. it was part of what became the
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bill of rights. and the reason for it is that when -- after the unhappy experience of the article of confederation led the founders to try to figure out a better way of governing this country, they came up with the constitution which, as we know, is full of checks and balances. but as it was submitted to the states for ratification, it became clear they might not get the nine states they needed unless there were promises of still more controls over the potential for the federal government overstepping its powers and crushing the states, which was not the object. so, the agreement was to come up with a set of amendments to it, and as -- and make that the first order of business when congress convened. with that promise they did get the nine states to ratify.
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it went into effect, and congress met and indeed they -- the first thing they started discussing was amendments. and to make a long story short, instead of sprinkling them into this or that provision of the articles of the constitution, they ended up as the bill of rights, the first ten amendments in the list, and the second amendment was none of them. but the wording of it indicates it didn't create anything new. it simply recognized the right that was already there. and connected it with the political reason for it, which was to ensure that the states could keep their militias, even if the federal government had a standing army, which everybody at the time thought would be the worst idea possible. that could lead to tyranny. and this was seen as a check against that kind of tyranny, a deterrent, if you will, to a tyrannical federal leader who could try to take over the country. >> host: was there any
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discussion of self-defense? >> guest: well -- >> host: -- or hunting. >> guest: very little and the amendment doesn't say anything about self-defense. it simply says any well-regulated militia necessary to the defense of a free state, the right, in other words, the existing right already, shall nat be infringed. >> host: a lot of arguments over the years. in terms of the tyrannical government, what did the founders seem to be thinking of? king george again or something -- >> guest: well, of course, they were coming out of the experience of the war against the british, so obviously the attempt to impose tyranny with the british army was in their minds, but they'd been through the few years of the confederation. >> and the rebellion in massachusetts. >> guest: and they had some trouble getting troops to answer
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the call to go fight. and so they thought -- you'll see there are quotations, especially from john adams, who makes it clear that they're not trying to create a situation where individuals who didn't like the federal government, could go hold up with an arsenal somewhere, hold off the feds when they came -- >> host: some people talk that way today. >> guest: that's not the way the founders thought. they saw this strictly as a mean of preserving the state's abilities to keep their militias going and in place, and john adams says at one point, that the militia is always subservient to the state. >> host: it's well-regulated. even after the constitution is
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adopted and washington is in office. you have the whiskey tax and the whiskey rebellion. how did they respond to that? >> that went better. sure. they recognized that they needed a strong federal power, needed to be -- needed to be these checks that would ensure that the states kept powers as well. >> host: over time, then, during the 1800s, the rest of the 1800s, we can -- 1900s, continue to have guns play a role in society, particularly ton the frontier, any surprises studying that era. >> the many thing that surprise mid was gun control in the wild west -- plenty of guns there, and, in reality, you couldn't carry a gun around in a town like.
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>> host: dodge or -- >> guest: dodge city is a good example. there were laws against that. you had to deposit your arms. if you were a cowboy who came in from the plains there was place where you were supposed to store your pistol if you had one. >> host: that didn't fit with the way most people think about it. >> guest: this is in settlements. knotted out in the wild prairie. but they're like towns everywhere today. you need a little law and order in towns and it's hard to keep that up if erv is pull ought a pistol. >> host: even the shootout at the okay corral was gun control. >> guest: it started because of ike had been arrested or accused of violating the local ordinance that forbids carrying a firearm openly around town. >> host: incidentally, the understanding of what gun rights were for began to evolve in the
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19th century in particular in the south. in the earl 19th century there was a big problem with duels. duels between gentlemen, obviously the most famous one is aaron burr and alexander hamilton. but this is dueling was fairly common, about it was frowned upon, and could be prosecuted, and had to keep moving around to avoid being prosecuted -- >> host: vice president burr. >> guest: so, -- but one of the means that people who insisted on being able to settle matters with honor on the spot, started to do, was carry pistols, small ones, concealed. well, this was seen by gentlemen as cowardly. if you are going to be a man, wear your pistol on your hip and
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don't sneakily carry it around inside your coat. so that began to change. >> host: it's actually -- still holds true today. most places don't have any restrictions on open carrying of guns, which a lot of people don't realize but there are restrictions on carrying concealed guns. goes back to the historical sense that the coward was the guy with the cop sealed gun, whereas if you openly had it in your holster -- >> guest: when you came upon somebody else. state like vermont has no rules practically at all about that. but anyway, the -- >> host: then you had the slave issue. >> guest: slaves, before the civil war, didn't have guns. and whites in the south, some of them began to see personal firearms as a means of defending themselves against slave
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rebelons if they needed to. later on, as we approached the civil war and abolition became strong movement, the abolitionists wanted to provide guns to the supporters of no slavery in kansas, and vice versa. so they wanted to supply arms to the abolitionist. >> host: john brown. >> guest: so they could defend themselves against attacks by their opponents. after the war, the klu klux klan and groups like that were persecuting freedman, free blacks in the south, and the blacks began to look for ways to defend themselves. the federal government tried continue constitute new state mill lit ya in some of the southern states, and blacks saw them as a way of -- >> host: certainly guns played a role in a lot of our hoyt. what was the legal understanding in those times? when there were restrictions, did folks consider that
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unconstitutional or just a political battle, whether it is an urban area or a city on the from tier trying -- frontier trying to get its act together. >> guest: the courts didn't have much to say about gun rights except in the state courts, where for the most part, early rulings by state and lower federal courts, supported the right and saw it as a -- not a right that belonged to criminals or to be used for criminal purposes, but more as a right that was in connection with civic duty. but the supreme court didn't say anything about the second amendment for about a century. they mention it briefly in a ruling in 1876. that was u.s. versus cookshank, which arose out of a horrible massacre.
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one of the worst in the reconstruction period, where a whole -- hundreds or more, blacks, had tried to defend themselves in louisiana, and were attacked by a white crowd, and the federal government attempted to prosecute the attackers. on the grounds they had deprived the blacks who were killed of their right -- >> amend. >> guest: -- the supreme court didn't find that was the case. it said at that time we don't see there was any racial motivation at all here to deprive blacks of their rights specifically, and in a kind of aside, the ruling said that the right to keep and bear arms in the second amendment was not a right granted by the constitution. it was a preexisting right.
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and so if there was any application, courts alert extended from that to say if it was depriving anybody, it was the federal government. so i was a limitation on the federal government. >> host: that's how most of the bill of rights is interpreted by the courts. only applied the federal government unless it was specifically incorporated to the states. >> guest: we didn't get the incorporation to the states on the second amount until 2010, in the followup decision to -- >> host: the chicago case. >> guest: right. >> host: how about in the 1900s? you have the prohibition era, john dillinger, machine guns. >> guest: prohibition produced organized crime, and g-men, and elliott ness and all of that.
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the first real federal gun control measure that came into effect as a result of that -- >> host: 1934 firearm -- >> guest: exactly. that was upheld in 1939 by the supreme court. >> host: in the miller case. >> guest: the miller case. somebody had challenged the application of the -- how you do be denied the right to have a machine gun, and the supreme court said, unless you can demonstrate there's a relationship between having a machine gun in private hands and the preservation of a well-regulated mill lit ta, doesn't seem to have any application. that rules was long interpreted to mean that the supreme court thought there was in individual right to have firearms. that you had to be in some kind of a relationship to a militia or the national guard or whatever, or the military. to exercise your right to have
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firearms. >> host: 1938 is a long time ago. that was the law of the land clearly until 2008. what changed during that time period? >> guest: well, incidentally, the 1934 firearms act is still in force. >> host: as an aside, always point that out. that shows how gun control can work you don't see many bank robberies with machine guns. there are serious restrictions on them and seems to have worked. >> guest: all of our horrible, appalling gun massacres, up in has been committed with a fully automatic weapon. but what happened? well, you had the firearms act, and then importantly, the 1960s happened, and all those racial and social turbulence of the 60s and the assassination of job job job dr. john f.
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kennedy and robert kennedy and king martin luther king. and there was support in the leadership in the nra for gun control. and charlton heston even subdescribed to statement read by another hollywood tough guy, calling for some kind of regulation that prevents the repetition of these crimes, these assassinations. i think it's like with a lot of gun control measures, you support them in california, ronald reagan supported a gun control measure, and because black panthers were running around with guns in the state legislator in sacramento. >> host: carrying guns. >> guest: exactly. the law made it impossible to do that and imposed a waiting period on the time you needed between applying for a handgun and actually being able to buy it. and people say, oh, well, that law will certainly stop the
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black panthers. but that law doesn't apply just to black panthers. eventually you get a backlash, and there was a social and political backlash in general to a lot of the things that happened in the '60s, and i think gun control was one of them. so, -- >> host: the '68 act dealt with the list of prohibited purchasers. so it wasn't saying if you're a felon or habitual drug user, dishohn -- dishorn blue discharged, mentally ding you eight or nine sections of people that shouldn't be able to buy guns. >> guest: but at the time it was -- took a long time do those checks and right now the system
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we have now is fullly automated one by the fbi. >> host: the way it work was in effect the honor system you. went in and bought a guy and they ask you, craig, are you a felon? if you said, no, you got to buy a gun. >> guest: the '68 act would allow people to lie and get away with. that wasn't changed in the brady act, and that's when -- >> host: the nra is supporting things, the '68 act, the prominent republicans supporting it. when did the nra change and when -- how did that mindset become different here? >> guest: well, interestingly, came as a sort of a surprise to me, too to learn the nra was initially founded by two former "new york times" reporters. >> host: now i know who to blame. >> guest: they were concerned about being prepared for national defense, like the first
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world war and making sure we had enough people in the country who knew how to use firearms, that we wouldn't be defeated if it came to a war. >> host: when i was growing up i had my marksmanship in camp. >> guest: my son got one. >> host: i kept those badges, too. quite a prize. and that was a different nra. >> guest: the nra still does a lot of, i think, worthwhile training and certifying of ability to use firearms safely, and -- but they became politically the leadership that approved the '68 gun control act was overthrown, replaced by others and eventually by charlton heston became a spokesman for that faction, and now we have wayne lapierre firmly in the saddle, and politically it's a very different organization from what it was in 1968, very clearly. also been able to raise huge
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amounts of money and become maybe the most powerful lobby in washington. and it plays basically on the backlash, on people's fears of -- well, imcrime is rising and the police can't do anything about it, then how are we going to keep ourselves from being robbed? murdered? raped? and son on. we need firearms to defend ourselveses and the nra certainly has been playing on that line for many years. >> host: but as crime is rising in the '8s and early '9s, crack cocaine and the gangs and more sophisticated guns, congress acted again. really only the third time they acted to do a gun control type measure. >> guest: with the assault -- >> host: the brady bill and the assault weapon ban. how does that fit into the chronology? >> guest: well, you had the attempted assassination of president reagan.
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took him ten years to come around to supporting a stronger measure. he eventually did, of course. the brady bill. and he wrote an op-ed in "the new york times" which i'm sure everyone in the nra has forgotten about, saying, we need some kind of measure like the one i signed when i was governor of california, that makes people go through a waiting period before they can acquire handguns. and i think the assault weapons ban, which came out a little later. >> host: next year. >> guest: -- was more emotional than real. if you look at violent crime committed with guns in our cities, today, or then, these assault weapons look like m-16s or ak-47s, did not figure in those importantly.
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those are mostly handguns. or pistols. >> host: saturday night specials from the '60s. >> guest: exactly. but assault weapons look scary, and i think it's easy to scare people about. they have figured, disproportionately, in these gun massacres like aurora, and others, and even many of them are committed with semi-automatic pistols and large capacity magazines which was part of the assault weapons ban. >> host: a lot of people don't understand the difference between a semi automatic, fully automatic, and maybe just a regular single shot pistol. >> guest: well, a resolving -- you pull at the trigger and each time it fires a bullet, and one comes into the chamber and you're ready to fire again. same with the semi automatic pistol. semi-automatic assault weapon
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means you have to squeeze the trigger each time you want to fire. >> host: you get 30 rounds off. >> guest: but you constant go brrrr like with -- host host >> guest: if you have a magazine with 100 rounds in it, like the shooter in the aurora movie theater, batman episode, you get a lot of -- although his magazine jammed, so he couldn't get off all 100 round. >> host: the tucson shooter with giffords, a magazine that held 31 rounds and got those off in 15 seconds. >> guest: and then he was prevented from reloading. so, i'm not -- >> host: brady bill, assault weapon ban. >> guest: it was allowed to lapse. when the momentum behind keeping the ban ran out, and president bush was in office --
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>> host: instead of bill clinton. >> guest: now there may be some move to rethink it. i found in doing research on the book, that violence, guck crime, did not go down significantly during the period when the automatic weapons ban, assault weapons ban was in effect. that doesn't prove that it had no effect. but statistically -- >> host: there are arguments about that. part of it, i know, is that people didn't -- banned new sales but you were allowed to keep old ones so there's a stock of weapons. so you are looking at a period of years before it makes a difference. >> guest: if you reinstated the ban now it would have the same grandfather clause about weapons previously purchased. so effective would it be? i think a lot of timed, liberals -- i cause the book a liberals' case -- make the mistake of thinking strict gun
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control, that's the way you control gun violence, the best way to control gun violence. i think if you could eliminate all 300 million gun wes have in this country, legal and illegal, surely gun violence would go down. but we're not going to be able to do that. and instead what happens is, in places like new york, where i live, the overwhelmingly support to make it as difficult as possible for everybody to buy guns legally, and that is seen as the best way to keep gun violence down. i doesn't work. >> host: you're arguing against it. >> guest: because criminals don't bother with getting a license and registering their guns. they can acquire them illegally. so the way they try to control that -- it will never be possible to eliminate it -- is to, i think, aim gun control measures at preventing people who shouldn't have guns, not people who ought to have the
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right and do according to the second amendment, from acquiring them. >> host: before we get to the solutions -- i want to discuss those in detail -- we kind of stepped over the mcdonald ruling. where does the second amendment stand now? you said in your book you agreed with the heller decision, the 2008 decision, by justice scalia, that said there is an individual right unrelated to any militia. you said right result, wrong reason. >> i agree it's an individual right and history shows that. but what the heller decision said was -- first of all, it's inconsistent. at one point scalia's opinion says, accordingly, crookshank decision, as we have said, the supreme court has said previously, it's not a right granted by the constitution. then a few paragraphs later he says the second amount conferred the right. well, how can it not be grant by the constitution but the second amendment confers the right?
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and he says, it was primarily about self-defense. well, nowhere in the debates about the second amendment in the 18th century do you find much emphasis on individual self-defense, as we said previously. that not the reason for it. it's not the reason why the second amendment was written and put into the bill of rights. so i think the reasoning is specious but the conclusion is valid. it is an individual right. so then what do you do? scalia goes on to say, that doesn't mean it can't be regulated. >> host: not unlimitost: not un. >> guest: right. understanding regulations like where you -- you can't take guns into schools schools and that kf thing. >> host: you can have limits on who gets guns, where they're taken, how they're sold and stored, and even what kind of guns they are. >> guest: right. and that law -- that ruling was
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basically extended to the states in 2010 in the chicago case, mcdonald case. and mcdonald was black man who wanted to have a firearm in -- >> host: actually he had firearm. he legally had a shotgun in his home. wanted to have a pistol. >> guest: and couldn't because chicago had restrictive lind s like the one in the district, and the court found 2010 that had to go. just like the newell the district that banned handguns. >> host: one thing in this day and age, you can make an argument -- a valid question is, what difference did that ruling make comment d.c. -- except in d. com and chicago? nobody was running out to pass gun control laws. hillary clinton, barack obama, said it was an individual right. 75% of the american people thought it was an individual right. 95% of the politicians, including those liberal politicians thought it was.
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other than getting rid of the d.c. law and then the chicago la law what difference did it make? >> guest: well, that's interesting to me that's a surprise because a lot of gun control advdvates said, after the decision -- after both those decisions, probably the tsunami i think was the word that was used -- of challenges to gun control regulations. well there have been some, but certainly not been a tidal wave of them and they haven't mostlied anded. here in the district, they passed -- decided on a new set of regulations that still ban assault weapons, and make it necessary you have to learn -- show you know how to use a gun and can store it safely and register it and so on. but -- and there is a challenge to that i don't think has been resolved yet. >> host: there have been at least a couple hundred lind suis across the country, and lind sus
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move slowly. but almost every one of them upholds the -- >> guest: doesn't seem to be a tidal wave of judges overthrowing gun control regulation because of heller and mcdonald. >> host: you have this new definition of the second amendment, and it's like arguing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. the issues are, how to make our community safer. i came at the issarg as a mayor in ft. wayne, indiana, republican, rising crime, strengthening the employs department, pushing for stronger laws and also realizing we made it too easy for dangerous people to get guns and sometimes they were outgunning my police department. so that sort of fits where you have gone with the book. >> guest: we need to have that kind of discussion. instead what usually happens after an atrocity like aurora,
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is politicians on all sides deplore the and iolence and the deaths and then we move on and wait for the next one. in new york city, mayor bloomberg is one of the head of this mayors against illegal guns, which is -- the nra descriookd as i-so worst enemy. >> host: mayor bloomberg from new york started it. now 500 plus mayors. >> guest: there is undeniably a gun and iolence prptlem in our country, and nobody can deny it, and unfortunately nptd. y is really talking and ery much about what can be done constitutionally and legally, to make it less violent, less prevailing as it is now. and i think that's what we need to do. obama and romney came close to it. they touched on it, i should say -- >> host: came up in one debate. >> guest: there was some common ground, they found, which my
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fohave er newspaper, the times,n an editorial, dismissed as sort of meaningless. well, it's not mea-nngless. if youetse going to change the way -- because people commit gun the guns nt themselves. how do you get at the behavior that leads people to use guns in troubled neighborhoods in our cities in new york there are coing nity guns that people sh in fire hydrants or street lamps. well, you can do something about that. you can pass a law, for instance, that made it -- imposed a heavy penalatr on usig a commu-natr gun, and the u.s. did in 2006 raised the minimum sentence for using of -- having a loaded illegal gun on you to three and a half yeais m. i think you can raise it even higher. that might make it clear to people who provide guns illegally to people who can't buy them because their names are
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on the list in washington in west and ing gi-n bar the nics list,- >> host: the list that it accessed when you do a back wasound check. >> guest: right. often criminals get around that by not -- by getting somebody else to buy a gun for them at a gun show or something. are> host: straw purchaser. >> guest: that's another thing that could be changed. just gun shows where you can buy a gun from a private seller without going through the back wasound check system. but all -- it's about 40%, i think, of total gun sales are conducted -- >> host: without a background check. >> guest: ookcause it's a privae sale. >> host: it's important ookcause -- i think when one of the barriers to the discussion is a lot of folks don't know how these laws work, and i try to point out, we don't have that many, quote, gun control laws on the books, other than
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restrictions on fully automatics. at the federal level. aren't much different. so you have restrd. yk on the fully automatics, the list of purchasers think requirement for the background check by the federally licensed dealeelse that's basically it. and that means that if you're buying from a so-called -- if you're buying from your nde t door neighbor, they don't have to do a background check. >> guest: that's outrageous. >> host: that becomes the private seller exemption, which is often exploited at gun shows where somc.d. y sets up week after week a@ ser week and sells hundred guns and never do background checks. >> guest: and the nra is fiercely opposed -- are> host: why would they e that? >> guest: because any kind of her restriction on the -- unfemmered freedom to own and use a gun. >> host: clearly it should be constiunftional, given what scalia -- >> guest: that's the system
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itself. it's juice a loophole, doesn't apply to private sales. but i think that's certainly one area where you could find common ground. how can the nra oppose, really, convincingly, regulation aimed at keeping people like criminal criminals and drug addic-so from acsionining guns? hing in the nras charter that supports gun rights for people like that. the nra always says don't make new gun control measure. enforce the laws we have against criminals. and that should be something we could a wasee on. >> host: of course, part of what is needed to enforce the laws are stronger definitions or stronger regulations. the list of prohibited purchasers from 1968 says, drug years -- i mean, says druyor@ but it doesn't define how you treat that. if anyone who ever used m ugs in this country were a prohi wasetd purchaser, we'd have a lot less
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guns. mentally ill is the major one. >> guest: that's a similar issu-c i recognize the sensitivity. i know people myself who have had mental problems and dealt with them, and a blaaliet prohibition against having a gun is something you want to thiali about and ery caragaully. really whatst: that's nt most people are talking about. after virginia tech when the brady center discexeered that a court in virginia had found him to be a danger to himself or heis m, but that the state of vi aginia hadn't sent that information in because he hadn't been ordered. he wasn't commimmed. rhen that shoorc a m you loophole. >> guest: actually found after that, that new york state omatiy sent him four names of pchaple that were dangerously mentally ill. mymy home state of indiana, ugsro. >> host: i know more than four people in new york --
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>> guest: yes. they did tighten up -- virginia did -- it's procedures. but at the federal level a bill was pass passed. there was a gun control bill passed in '07, sid med by incentives to the states to put more of this these record -- >> host: i don't know how md. yh chuck schumer, our senator from new york, keeps truying to from states for al,rious purposes unless they provide more names to these lists. >> host: i adruays looked at the sort of the isstor s are -- cleaning up -- having a stronger background check system to make it harder for pchaple we all agree are dangerous, from getting guns, should be the way we're glisng, and your book argues that. and part of that gets into having better definition of who is dangerous and m bee sure the records are in the systejo and then requiring the background check on all sales. but to. >> guest: but to get to that you have to get past the sort of
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hysteria and the nra and other groups like it created in the state legislaunfre and con wase. practically have a stranglehold over any kind of discussion on isstor s like thi. i thiali legislatois m ought to think twice before the attack measures that basically enable easily. >> host: the trayvon martin -- george zimmerman situation in florida. >> guest: let the jury decide what happened there you pass a law that makes its easier to kill pchaple, well, criminals cn take advantage of that lly m, to not just you who happen to think you're in danger of bkilng attacked by somchane with a gun. i thiali it's shameful we have rushed past standard ground and casting aside lly ms -- >> there's adruays been a rigngt to self-defense. every state recognizes a right to self-defens-c what these lly ms do is t bee ay the discretion of the prosecutor or the police to arrest or the
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prosecutor to cha ag-c >> guest: who does that serve? one of the things that did surprise me a little, i didn't condd. yt a nationwide survey so gun owners, but among pchaple with guns that i talked with, i found that very often the reaction -- your way of thialiig ookfore and a@ ser you got a gun, is very different. i think any law-abiding gun aner realiugss, when h law-s gt guini he or she, it's a huge responsibility. you've got -- if you use this weapon ickeesponscogly or wrongy you could get yourself into legal trouble, of course, cause unnecessary misery and death, even, to pchaple you didn't intend to do harm to. it makes you very careful. >> host: or it should m bee you careorihe, >> guest: it should, and for most people it does. i think it would make people more caragaul if they all had to pass some kind of a test before
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they get lance to buy a gun. >> host: have to do that bagaore you can drive a car. >> guest: you do. and you don't always when you buy a gun. >> host: most places. one of the weaknesses, i felt in your book is dealing with the consequences of gun violenc-c you touch on it some, but 12,000 people murdered with guns every year, another 18 how long to commit suicide with guns everuy star. i t even mentioned to somchane t living with guns and they said shouldn't be living and dying with guns. you talk with pchaple that enjoy hunting, and you talk too people at gun shows that are gun enthusiasts. i don't thiali you talked to anybody in the book that had been a direct victim of gun violence. >> guest: the brady campaign has done so much to give people like that a voice. i certainly didn't intend to ignore the problem, but if you
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lor, a at the 30,000 roughly a year figure of people who died, @f couis me, many thousands more prho are isequred frot_- by guns every year, but half of them are suicides. our gun and iolence rate in this country is and ery high. itt p much higher than countries with strict gun control. but our fatal assault rate is hig,er, excluding guns, than most european countries including guns. america as i more violent-prone -- and iolence-prone society than any european one today is. a lot of that has to do with our history and our m beeup and our mentalitnw but, yes, 30,000 is way too many, and 13,000 deaths is way too many, and we tooth -- we
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taugng t be dis hapssing about bringing it down. we can't eliminate it entirely. >> host: one of the things you suggest you talk about strengthening the background checks and stricter penalties. you mixed licensing and @estatstration. pre touched on that briefly. that's something that does generally get pchapl law-s attention. how would you suggest we work that? >> guest: well, first of all, i would go back to the historuy ad people ougng t to look at that d say that we've always had gun registration. just ooken on a local level. i thiali the second . i t endment and the court decisions surrounding it, probably make it clear that the federal gexeernment shouldee ook the agency that registers guns. in fact, as laws that congress has passed for wasehow ing it. but theret p some states that forebit -- forbid registering guns. why is that? itt p part of the hysteria
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created by the extreme gun rights groups about any kind of gun regulation is a step towarot sefroming your guns and destrqug your freedom to own and use firearms. it's not. it's sensible. you register cars. th wr can kill pchaple, too, thi primary purpose isn't to kill people, unlike -- is a primaruy purpose of handguns. >> host: and iurve adruays thout the automobile analogy is a good one. of pchaple -- if i'm going to selmentaons car to hi next dr neighbor, i can't just sell the car to them you still have to go to the paperhe crk to transfer e offi prhal title. he has to be a licensed driver. he cars has to be registered. ju i get in an accident with the car somebody is going analyze why the accident happened and whether i wes -- evenly do we need stricter rules of druali driving or distracted driving,
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texting while driving, or the road ligng ting is fnorltnw -sing from the individual responsibility to the design of the car and the design of the roads. but with guns. >> guest: with guns they're a congressional law that forbids the federal gexeeru ent from regulating the way guns work to make sure they operate safely. >> host: how does that make sense? >> guest: it doeactguns e m bee senses. >> host: sometimes guns without the person kill people, too. >> guest: i donguns e see what federal regulatioini rules, that would apply to gun manufacturers to make it safer to operate guns. amendment in that. but right now it's barred by congressional lly m. >> host: it amaugss me, i wes -- the restrictions -- again, don't think most people realize this, that the center for disease control is restricting what they can look into in terms of gun
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violencee of health is restricted what they can look into. the alcohol, tobacco and firearms is restricted what records they can keep. all of you assume -- >> hamstringing law enforcement does nothing redtige gun and iolence >> host: and when we started to look at tobacco and the cost we had surgeon general statements and lly msuits. the lly msuits against gun manufacturers are banned by congress, too. >> guest: rig,t. itt p ickeesponshol,le and unthinking and i just hope we be able to start talking intelligent my about our gun violence problem and what we can do about it and fall back into the his stairat that gun control means youly ae t being the freem to hs. ie guns awanw no. how do you have guns safely. more safely than we do now. >> host: is the book ahow ressed to lhol,erals or gun owners or
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elected officials? >> guest: anybody who needs it. but certainly -- i talked to my liookral frienort and you can sy that's about mayor bloomberg so preoccuphinkd with the problem f gun and iolence in the city that he thinks the only way to deal with it is just to keep cracking down habier on everuybodyt p a waselo acsiontrie firearms. new york city's laws are almost as strict as they were in the district of colum wasea. >> host: the laws in new york, particularly -- you get into the book -- deal with the concealed cackey lly ms. who has a right to get a per notice carry a gun. how do you think that should be handled? >> guest: i thiali in general al gun legislation on who can own gun aside from the federal cate-sries -- under what ctri hapraltances and when you y and when you don't, they should all be as l lawal as possibl-c
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people in new york need different rules than people in new york city i mean -- than people in montana, or t guas, pr a i ly. th wrly ae best able to decide t kind of rules they should have. ofortunately in a lt states, the gun l a gu has made it possible for -- impossible for local jurisdictions to make their oins rules. how e, os the state legislagun sitting in the capitol of the state -- ingotst: have rules gt off guns in city parunf and the state legislature said you can't have that law. >> guest: itt pto dnthialiing. itt p hysteria that produces lls like that. it's not clear thinking about what the problem we hs. ie is and how we can intelligently deal with it. >> host: i want to touch briefly on -- i don't think you hs. ie gt into it too mtigh with the book but the court cases talk about
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guns basically in the home for sejus-defense. when we get to concealed carruy, wely ae talking about taking the gun out into the public view, of states they're ing ates after a shot virginia tech, we should have guns in the classroom, or guns in more places. where is that all gt cng and wht makes sense to you. >> the argument you hear after every large, scale mass dytooting, aowned pchaple carrug guns in the crowd around congressmen giffords or the movie theater -- >> host: actually there was a guy carrying his gun around the corner from giffords, and as you messengered in the booes, -- he rounded the corner and they'd already tackled the shooter because his large capacity w yop ran out of bulleuãbut he was ed of saying he would have shot the bad guy but he didn't know who the bad guy was. >> guest: thatt p the problem. i if you ask any police officer
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how do you feel about gt cng ino a bar or restaurant where somebody is picking off people at a terrible clip, and people in the -- who migng t be and ictiral innothbahol at them. how do you like that situation? >> host: don't know which ones have the white hat snooze one of the things that mistakenly people assume about guns and self-protection, it wouff happn me to hs. ie a gun at my home in ons home, next to me for self-protection. okay, robber breaks into your house and youly ae awheeeprot how are you gt cng to get your gun? make sure the round is chambered? fire and aim propeted corn you're thialiing magic if you think that's going to happen automatically. >> host: one of the things -- i iesd it -- there are sgun that show and people argue about the studies all the time but a gun in your home is 21 times more likely to beto dsed against you or a family member than it is to protect you. and tha wes becnorse somebody
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selg,tto dse it for suicide or e neighbor next door or might wake up in the middle of the nigng t and i wes your brother-in-law. people don't talk about the risks and responsibilities. >> guest: th wr thiali i wes eay toto dse a gun propeted corn >> host: i think one of the important things about your boou^ your stress there are community responshol,thiities te are risk, and that we need to dialogue, and too mtigh of the time, whether i wes b a costas get thing trouble for talking about it, or doctors in florida or the mthiitary s gunsing they can't talk about ids or pchaple just going historical, we need to deal with this issue. itt p too ihaportant. >> guest: i hrode we w thil. but so far it's slow to come. >> host: well, and it's -- agghtn, i've alw gunss felt thae gun control sidmeb that we want to talk, and maybe the other side doesn't. but i'm wthiling to truy adytotg to truy to get them to the tabl. thank you for writing the book, and hopefully we can gtre the he cbi out and gtre some sanitcn
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-soãto talk to you. >> that was after words, book tv'se pro wast in which northors of the latest nonfictin books are interviewed by journalists, legislators and hekno ft thieopr with thetri material. thter worort airs every weekend at 10:00 p.m. on saturday, 12:00 and 9 pw t. on sun@ y, and : war iit's sa.m g on mon@ corn you can watch after words online. go to booktv.org and click on thter worort in the become tv series and trodics on the upper right side of the page. >> with just days left in 2012, madyto publications are putting together their year-end lists of notable books. book tv will feature these lisu@ fo hapsing on nonfiction listin. these were included in the st. louis dispatch's best b

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